I was jealous when I read the one line that nearly destroyed my self-confidence as a writer. Olivia Goldsmith, author of the 1996 novel turned into a wildly successful film, “The First Wives Club,” once wrote the line, “Frederick is fond of the gnocchi.”
What a great line! The reader can almost taste the mint juleps and smell the wisteria. I didn’t even know what gnocchi was until I Googled it. To think a writer could infuse such eloquence and pinache into a simple sentence about a sauce-covered dumpling.
Perhaps in order to develop a classier style in my own writing, I should strive to engage in more cultural endeavors. I could become a classical movie buff. Many years ago Hollywood knew how to produce classy movies featuring actors who could deliver a line like, “Frederick is fond of gnocchis.” My research revealed these titles, among others: “Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death,” “Brainmashers-A Love Story,” “Dead Women in Lingerie,” Zipperface,” and “Forty Naughty Women.” I doubt I’d find a classy line of dialog in any of those.
The movies weren’t much help in my quest to develop a more eloquent style of writing, so the next time I got together with friends for lunch, I was determined to mine the conversation at the table for usable quotes to work into my writing. What I discovered was that most of the conversation at the table revolved around the rapid decline of our digestive systems. None of my friends uttered a line nearly as classy as, “Frederick was fond of the gnocchi.”
Hoping to improve the quality of the conversation, I introduced the topic of current advances in the field of medical science by mentioning that I’d recently suffered an abscessed tooth. My friend responded to my prompt , “Did you know that my dentist specializes in treating chickens?”
I was awestruck. Already I was expanding my intellect by gaining new knowledge. I didn’t even know chickens had teeth, let alone that they sometimes needed the services of a dentist. Did they get birdseed stuck between their teeth? Can they floss? Do they need dentures? Braces? Into my brain sprung a vision of a flock of chickens prancing around the barnyard, flashing blindingly white and toothy smiles.
“How much training is required before a dentist can bill himself as a specialist in poultry dentistry?” I asked my friend. “How many chickens does he treat a week? What? You meant that he specializes in treating humans who are afraid (chicken) of dentists?”
So much for elevating the cultural level of our conversations. At this rate, I’ll never be able to match literary gems like, “Frederick is fond of the gnocchi.” Perhaps I just need more practice. How’s this?
Harley hankers for some head cheese. Claude is crazy about collard greens. Elliot adores escargo. Conrad is coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. I may have to get the permission of General Mills for that one, but by George, I think I’ve almost got it.